Thursday, October 16, 2008

Russia's Agenda at the Talks over the Russo-Georgian War?

Russia seeks to use the Geneva process to cement its territorial gains, erode Georgian sovereignty further, and disseminate propaganda against the Georgian government from a Geneva tribunal. Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov spelled out Russia’s goals in Moscow on the eve of the Geneva conference and Karasin did so during the Geneva event (Interfax, Itar-Tass, October 13-15). The stated goals include the following:

1) Georgia should sign legally binding agreements on the non-use of force with Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the Geneva framework, as well as “develop normal relations” with the Abkhaz and South Ossetian authorities. The proposed agreements and “normalization” could, however, amount to recognition of the two territories’ secession, which is a central objective for Moscow in this Geneva process;

2) Pending such agreements, the EU should “guarantee” security in “zones adjacent to” Abkhazia and South Ossetia, on rump Georgia’s territory, working out the modalities with the secessionist authorities and Russia in the Geneva process. Such arrangements, however, would carve out special-status zones in Georgian territory and could turn the EU’s Monitoring Mission (EUMM) into de facto border guards along the new, illegitimate “borders”;

3) An international ban should be imposed on sales of “heavy” and/or “offensive” weapons to Georgia. This purely propagandistic demand seeks to stigmatize Georgia as an “aggressor” state necessitating international restraining measures. Meanwhile, Russia is continually objecting to the idea of Georgia receiving purely defensive weapons, such as anti-tank and air-defense systems, the lack of which ultimately laid Georgia wide open to the invasion in August.

It almost sounds like either A) the Russians are trying to derail the talks so they can claim the gave the jawboning a try but it was those darn Westerners that screwed everything up or B) they're trying to set up Georgia to be uberweak to either take it or, after the talks are done, just outright claim the errant territories.

So which is it, Mr Putin?

No comments: